The agents are part of the California Department of Justice's Armed Prohibited Persons System (APPS), a program that takes firearms from people barred from owning them. The law says that group can include ex-felons and people deemed to be mentally unstable.Because the agents are using registration lists, and it is illegal to sell a firearm in California privately (all sales must go through federal dealers), the "I sold it" excuse is not allowed:
Team members say they are dogged: They will press a prohibited person to allow them to search a home to look for the gun and ask to see the paperwork if they are told a weapon has been sold.This is the purpose of gun registration and the requirement to report a gun as stolen. With these requirements, a person does not have the legal recourse to simply say the gun was sold, stolen, lost, or given away. The presumption of property rights in simple possession has been lost. Unless you can show that you have documented permission from the state, possession of a gun is de-facto illegal.
The agents are in full tactical gear, and claim that the job is very dangerous. I have yet to see a single article about a gun fight that resulted from these confiscation raids.
"It really is a dangerous job," said Yo, a Marine Corps veteran of the first Gulf War. "Every time we make a contact, it's a very dangerous situation."Even guns that are not owned by the prohibited person are confiscated:
Arrests don't always follow the discovery of a gun. Agents visited a nearby home in Clovis in search of a firearm owned by a man who had been evaluated as mentally unstable. They found that he had access to a gun safe with several long guns as well as a long-barreled .50-caliber Smith & Wesson revolver valued at several thousand dollars.Note that the man was evaluated as mentally unstable, a slippery slope that can be used to take constitutional rights from large numbers of people. If the evaluation was in error, which commonly happens, then a court case with significant costs will be required to prove that you are eligible to own guns.
Even enforcers sometimes feel guilty about what they are doing. From the LA Times:
Marsh said he once felt a little twinge when taking a gun. The man had been disqualified from ownership because of mental illness. Agents found him living in compound without electricity in a rural area near Crescent City. He was using his guns to shoot game to feed himself.This is how slow gun confiscation worked in the English, and earlier, Japanese models. Make it illegal to own guns without a state sanction. Reduce the number of new legal owners by making it harder for people to buy and possess guns through increasingly difficult bureaucratic barriers such as background checks, safety classes, waiting periods, and mental evaluations.
On the other side, make it illegal for more classes of people to legally possess arms by increasing the number of classes that are prohibited and the broadening the definitions of the people who are in those classes.
In the end, the number of legal gun owners becomes small enough that it is politically ineffective, and can be ignored.
To those who say, "it can never happen here", just point to California.
©2013 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice is included.
Link to Gun Watch